Newton County reaches agreement with Grady EMS
Newton County and Grady EMS have reached a short-term mutual aid agreement to provide ambulance service for Newton County.
Grady will begin operations in Newton County Aug. 1 when Piedmont Newton’s releases its license to operate emergency medical service (EMS). Grady will base its ambulances in several locations throughout Newton County.
The agreement with Grady EMS is a six-month contract at a cost of $1,000 per day. Newton County is currently paying Piedmont Newton $1,500 a day for operation of the county’s ambulances based out of the hospital located within the Covington city limits. At its funding of $1.2 million in fiscal year 2017, Piedmont Newton was operating ambulances at a cost of more than $3,287 per day.
“This was a proposal that was in the best interest of the county,” Newton County Manager Lloyd Kerr said.
Newton County has subsidized the local hospital for approximately 20 years to operate EMS. Piedmont Newton Hospital has held the area’s EMS license since 2015 when Piedmont Healthcare assumed operations from the Newton County Hospital Authority.
After Newton County informed Piedmont it would not subsidize the hospital at the requested $1.8 million for EMS for Fiscal Year 2018, Piedmont informed the state that it would release its license on July 31.
Following a work session on Tuesday, June 20, the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) unanimously voted to pursue the state license. During that work session on the subject, commissioners heard from several experts in the area of EMS, including long-time EMS professional Trey Phillips, Georgia Office of EMS and Trauma Region III Director EJ Daily and Newton County Emergency Management Agency Director Jody Nolan.
The BOC left that meeting knowing that by holding the license, the county would be able to ensure top-notch EMS service for its citizens for years to come.
In order to help do that, the BOC instructed Kerr, Fire Services Chief Michael Conner and 911 Director Mike Smith to reach a short-term mutual aid agreement with a licensed provider.
Kerr, Conner and Smith identified Grady as that service provider.
“We are excited about working with Grady,” Kerr said. “They provide great service and are renowned for their top trauma and burn centers. We now have a connection to the Grady system which is a great benefit to Newton County residents.
Grady EMS began in 1892 with one horse-drawn ambulance and now staffs more than 350 licensed personnel and maintains a fleet of more than 46 ALS ambulances staffed by double EMT-Intermediate or EMT-1/paramedic combination transport units. Grady EMS is the exclusive 911 provider for Atlanta and provides 911 EMS for six counties across Georgia.
With Grady EMS on board for the near future as the EMS provider for the county, an EMS committee will be formed to oversee the EMS process and assist with a request for proposal for the selection of a more permanent provider. The committee will also assist with standards and deliverables of EMS, according to a motion to form the committee made by Newton County Commissioner Nancy Schulz, District 3.
Schulz requested committee members to include an emergency room physician, emergency room nurse or nurse practitioner, a health care provider with expertise in pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine, the 911 director, Newton County and Covington fire chiefs, Emergency Management Agency Director, County Manager, an individual currently practicing as a paramedic or EMT and Sheriff’s Office representative.
The agreement with Grady EMS will be announced at the next BOC meeting on July 18 in the Newton County Historic Courthouse.